Saturday, July 4, 2009

One week down, four to go...

Here is as a brief yet complete an update I can offer:

This week was great but unbelievably exhausting.

Sunday I moved into Loyola Marymount University...yes I am living in a dorm, and after being spoiled rotten by Pepperdine's rooms, I am not 100% enjoying it, but truth be told, the vast majority of the time I spend in my room, I am sleeping.

Our first day of official training started Monday. I am doing ECE (early childhood education) here at LBUSD (Long Beach Unified School District), which is perfect! The kids I will be teaching are entering Kinder in the fall so they are around the age and level I expect my students to be come August. For this week, our bus left at 6:10, which means I had to wake up at 5:20 everyday...to pick up my lunch at 5:55 (Subway all week long), and make sure I made it to our site. We sat in "sessions" everyday from 7 A.M. to 4:45 P.M.

Sessions consist of: extensive training on lesson planning (creating your "vision," key points, etc.), literacy sessions (on phonics, the building blocks of reading comprehension), classroom management sessions, and so on and so forth. They are long and tiring yet extremely worthwhile, and I have learned SO much in just a week.

The staff here is wonderful. My CMA is named Ashleigh, and she is great. I already can tell she will be VERY helpful at making sure I am doing what I am supposed to do and learning as much as possible, which is what I need.

The CS has gotten some not-so-great response from the entire ECE group (there are about 45 of us), but I have spoken to her one-on-one and find her advice great. There is no way that anyone in the room knows everything that is being presented, so even when I'm exhausted I know I am learning something new.

That said, the LS is AMAZING. She wrote the Elementary Literacy text that we are required to read before Institute, and I pretty much am hoping that I can just absorb some of her wisdom. I still feel nervous about teaching phonics, but seeing as she literally wrote the book, she can answer any and all questions I have.

...Okay instead of going into even more detail, as I'm getting tired and want to get to bed, let me just share my overall thoughts:

1. Institute will DEFINITELY be worthwhile and help me a lot. I am surprisingly still excited for the next 4 weeks despite the fact that I've heard how hard this process is.

2. The few things that have been difficult for me lately are:
-Being among such stressed and perfectionist individuals! Goodness knows I hate handing in half-assed (sorry, I couldn't think of a word that is more appropriate that has the right meaning) work or doing less than my best, but I take things in stride, and I know what my priorities are (family, sleep, my health). It's hard to relate to people who stay up until 4:45 working non-stop when we wake up just after 5 to leave for school.
-Actually meeting and getting to know people. ALL we talk about is TFA. Plus, I realize that just because we are doing TFA together, we may not be going in for the same reasons, and we also may not have a similar value/belief system, which is very different after going to a Catholic high school and Christian college.
-Not seeing or talking with family and friends. Being busy from 6 A.M. to 5 P.M. and then lesson planning after that is not exactly conducive to responding to phone calls and emails.

All in all though, Institute really is wonderful. I truly believe that the staff here wants one thing: for us to be as successful and prepared as possible in the classroom in the fall so that our students can be as successful in a year and as prepared as possible upon leaving our classes. I make may jokes about all the acronyms TFA uses (RPR=relentless pursuit of results...no joke, the acronyms abound everywhere), but the organization as a whole and its staff and CMs are doing AMAZING things, and I am extremely excited to be a part of it.

I'll try to update next weekend!
Lots of love,
Alex

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